Let’s Recap, Shall We?

20 02 2012

Since we’ve been quiet on here for a while, I’m going to roll on back to the beginning of Her Side and repost each of the Rules and the Good Stuff Posts, and then finish off these lists (we have one Rule left to discuss and two Good Stuff!). We’ll start today and do one of each each day for the next couple of weeks, after which it’ll be all new content!

Think of it like the “Previously, on the [insert your favorite television show here]” moments at the beginning of each week’s episode. So, without further ado, “Previously, on Her Side of the Mountain…”

When Life Gets In the Way

20 09 2010

A preview of what's to come

When John Lennon said that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, I think he was looking into the future and speaking directly to me, specifically this past summer.  Of course, in my case, I made so many plans for the summer that once it arrived it was all I could do to run around and keep all the plans, let alone reflect on them or write about them in some coherent fashion, even when they did involve hiking and the wilderness.

And then, once summer was over, Her Side learned about another soon-to-manifest work-life upheaval (a good one, don’t worry) that will likely make it even more difficult to post regularly.  Thus, I’m going to jump off the regular posting schedule for a while — I’ll no longer be on hiatus, and will try to post at least once a week if not more, but I can’t promise the days.

To make it easier to follow without obsessively checking the site (which I know you’ve been doing faithfully even while I’ve been a flake), here’s what you can do:

  1. You can subscribe to the email list, on the right side of the page;
  2. You can click on the little RSS feed button; or
  3. You can follow Her Side, “hermountain” on Twitter.

Or you can do all three.  I’m just sayin’.

In the meantime, I do have a number of articles in the works, including:

  • a review of a hike in Vermont that I did while dragging my non-hiking best friend and her two kids along with me (first time hiking for the 5 year old!)
  • a review of an incredible Colorado resort spa (complete with hiking)
  • a review of a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park that I have now managed to do twice somehow without realizing it until the hike began the second time
  • reviews of some products, including sunscreen, bug repellant, lip balm, and soy jerky
  • finishing up the Rules and the Good Stuff
  • some slightly politicized discussions of paying for rescues in National Parks and people’s tendency to rely on technology to overestimate their abilities and safety
  • and a bunch of other stuff.

See, I have been thinking about you, I swear. 

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Adventure Towns

26 08 2010

Portland, Oregon

Outside Online has an interesting Top-25 article about the Best Towns to live in for access to aoutdoor adventure, affordability, and some other characteristics.  In their words:

Where do you end up when you want a community with incredible access to the outdoors, affordable homes, and solid jobs? Some very surprising places. Introducing the top 25 towns in America for cycling, paddling, running, surfing, skiing, and—because you might want everything—all of the above.

Among the Top 25 are Boise, Idaho; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Portland, Maine; Charleston, South Carolina; and Boulder and Denver, Colorado (as two separate entries).  Check them out here, and then let me know what you think.

Any of my readers live in any of these places?  Why should we all move there (or not)?

(Ed. Note: Her Side will be back to regularly scheduled programming starting Tuesday, September 7.  Thanks for sticking around!)

(Ed. Note: Someone kindly pointed out to me that the photo above is actually of Portland, Oregon, not Portland, Maine.  In my defense, it was labeled as Maine at the place from whence I obtained it.  Still, my apologies to citizens of both towns!)

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

You Think That Was A Mistake? (Guest Post!)

28 06 2010

(Today, I have a special treat for you all.  My friend and sometime hiking buddy, Aprille Dembsky, is doing a guest post!  She and I were talking about my recent posts about mistakes made while hiking, and she told me about this group trip from a couple of years ago.  Aprille knows better.  Most of the people on this large group hike know better.  And yet…)

by Aprille Dembsky

To set the scene: a week-long vacation in Las Vegas over New Year’s Eve with 15 friends from college. Average age: about 30. On the first day, we did a relatively tame hike in the nearby Red Rocks Park. The path was well-marked and popular (i.e. crowded) and left us feeling a tad cocky. Towards the end of the week, after days drinking like we were still in college, 10 of us decided to find a “real” hike.

We planned to leave at 10:00 in the morning, but Dan was still in bed.

“Dude, I’m so hung over. Fifteen more minutes?”
“Dude, we are ALL WAITING in the van. We are leaving NOW!”
Dan grumbles.
“He’s coming! Hold on!”
Which was following by nine other people grumbling. Once on the road, Dan asks to stop at McDonalds for breakfast. Somebody throws him a Powerbar and says no.

Everybody packed their own bag. We half-heartedly coordinated food and supplies, but we didn’t have a first aid kit. We headed to the Valley of Fire State Park in a rented white panel van.

There had been some changes to the Valley of Fire State Park in the 12 years since the guide book was printed. The marquee trail, “vigorous and isolated, with panoramic views” had been paved over. What used to be a five-mile trek was now a scenic drive, ending with a half-mile scramble to the top of a small hill.

Greatly discouraged, we asked the Visitor Center if any “real” hikes still existed.

“Well, I don’t recommend it,” worried glance at our motley crew of hiking boots and sneakers, dry-wicking pants and jeans, and Andy, who was recovering from a car accident and walking with a cane, “but one part of the park is an open wilderness. Folks can go hiking in there, but it’s an interpretive hike, no trail markings. We have maps, but we suggest you use GPS.”

Interpretive hiking sounded perfect. No, we didn’t have a compass or GPS (this was just before everybody owned an iPhone). It was almost noon, so we finished the few sandwiches. We cracked a few jokes about how little water we had for a journey into the chilly winter desert.

We drove to the start of the hike, and saw two people exiting, heading to their pick-up truck. Rugged and withered, the man and woman each wore large packs, broad hats, and exhausted smiles. Their large dog (St. Bernard, perhaps) was wearing a pack containing two empty water bottles.

“Y’all know where you’re going?” the gentleman asked.
“Oh, yeah, sure. We’re just gonna take a look around.”
“Y’all take care now.” He was too polite to say what he was obviously thinking: “you stupid city kids.”

The head of the interpretive hike was on a hill, giving us a good vantage point of a vast valley below. It was rocky and tree-less (making for few natural landmarks.) There were no other cars parked at the trail head, and we could see no other hikers.

“This is wrong on so many levels” mused Carl, who had studied geology in college. “At least let’s stay together.” The beginning descent was steep, and the rocky ground was unsteady. At this point, Andy wisely decided to sit out, rather than risk further injury to his hip. Ian offered to stay with Andy.

We continued to separate after that. Miguel ran to follow some tracks in the dust while Dan tried to scale a large boulder. We called back and forth to each other, trying to keep in verbal contact. After about 15 minutes, we heard a thump, and then “Oh, shit.” “What?” “What, what?” “Where?” “I’m OK, I’m just stuck.” Josh had jumped in a hole. Yes, Josh, an accomplished lawyer and military serviceman, saw a large crevice between two desert rocks, and decided to jump into the natural cave. And he was stuck, because the sides of the rock were smooth.

Much humor ensued, jokes about leaving Josh behind, jokes about how everybody ELSE would meet their death. Carl noted that we could no longer see the trail head or the van. “Andy and Ian took it! They’ve driving back to the Strip now!”

The end of the story is far less interesting than the set-up. This is because we were lucky, as well as dumb. We managed to extricate Josh from the cave, and after that, we stuck together. After a short loop we returned to the van and drove back to the City of Sin.

Right This Way…

27 05 2010

Today on Go Girl, musings on the hazards of being “She Who Travels.”

Check it out here.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

1 04 2010

Today, on Go Girl, I reveal eight things to make sure you pack when you leave on your road trip.  You know, the one you’re planning.  You are planning one, right?

Check it out here.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Something Very Different

17 03 2010

I’m taking a break from writing about hiking and camping today to engage in some blatant self-promotion…I mean, give the readers a glimpse into other facets of my personality.  Here’s something that y’all who don’t know me personally don’t know about me:

When I’m not on a mountain or in a canyon, or planning my next dude ranch trip, (or, heaven forfend, at work) I write fiction.  Usually in the cover of darkness — think of me as a fiction-ninja.  In recent years, I’ve won a couple of contests for short stories and what-not.  I am perpetually working on twenty-seven novels* that fall into a wide variety of genres, from literary to romance to thriller to YA to YA-thriller-romance.  I don’t write sci-fi or fantasy, unless coerced.

Yesterday, I was published for the very first time not as the result of winning a contest, in the Boston Literary Magazine.  My piece is technically a drabble (which is a story of exactly 100 words) though it currently appears in the “Quick Fiction” section.

What makes this even more fun is that my friend and fellow writer Carrie Heim Binas is also published in this issue, in the Drabble section.  Check her out, too.

We’ll be back on topic on Friday!

* Not an exact number…

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Let’s Get Mechanical

4 03 2010

Today on Go Girl, I tell you ten things every solo road-tripping girl should know about her car.

Click here to read it.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

And It’s Wednesday

24 02 2010

I know, I know.  I know what you’re thinking.

It’s Wednesday already, and there has been no post from Her Side yet this week.  Well, Her Side is floundering.  Buried under a mountain of work.  Barely having a moment to remember to feed the cat in between finishing work and crashing for a few hours of sleep and then rising to keep working.  Trying desperately to get through the next few days when things should get a lot easier.

And boom.  There it is.  That inevitable thing that happens when you don’t have time to live your life because you’re so busy living your life: you try to skip days.  I swore I would stop doing that, and am ashamed that I’ve gotten myself into that habit again.  I’ve been doing it since the holidays. 

It happened in 2008 as well (most of 2008, in fact, which passed me by like a freight train without brakes), which is why, in 2009, I remembered how much I love hiking and camping and made an effort to make time for it again.  Which is how I realized that neither activity has to be a giant production (despite all of my precautions and warnings).  Which is why I decided to start writing about it so other people could stop living for the weekend, or the end of this crazy project, or whatever is keeping them (you) from living your life the way they (you) want to live it.  So you could take my advice, get yourself in the habit, and take the time to smell the roses.  Or whatever else you find on the trail.

You can do it.  Try something new.  Or old, it doesn’t matter.  Stop putting off your life until you have more time to live it.  Do it now.  Don’t let life pass you by.

And I’ll be back on Friday and try really hard not to miss another day of posting.  Thanks for sticking around!

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.

Pinching Dollars

18 02 2010

Check out today’s article on Go Girl, in which I give you some ideas to keep costs down while you travel the open road. 

Click here to read it.